One year ago, as 2016 began, I was a very unhappy Yank. After Christmas cancer surgery, I was starting treatment with a pretty grim prognosis, and I thought I’d permanently blown my dream of a pilgrimage to the Blue Mecca of Goodison Park, which all good Evertonians must make at least once in their lives. (TW contributor Pat Finegan calls it the Everton Hajj.) In 30 years as a Blue, I’d always intended to get there someday, but it looked like someday was already gone.

Well, I have another chance. As 2017 begins, I’m still on the upside of the grass, as a friend put it. In fact, I’m feeling so good I expect to be back on the pitch for my men’s open league team this spring (not bad to be 60 and still cutting out crosses from teenagers!).

So no more waiting. Goodison here I come. I have air tickets from Oregon to Heathrow for April 6, with the intent of seeing the home games against Leicester and Burnley on April 8 and 15. Of course, by then these will be two crucial games in our stunning comeback battle for Champions League places.

I’d love to meet up with some of the good folk of TW, with whom I’ve celebrated and commiserated and debated through these past ten years, for the pregame ritual and the game itself. (Somebody will have to teach me the songs – I know one stanza of It’s A Grand Old Team but haven’t picked up the others from TV.)

I’d welcome suggestions on good areas to stay in town, and also on things to do around the country during the intervening week, especially scenic train trips.

It’s my only chance, so this will be the trip of a lifetime.... even if by chance we're not yet challenging for the top 4. COYB!


Reader Comments (108)

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Pat Finegan
1 Posted 23/01/2017 at 02:29:34
Great to hear, Mike! I'm planning on going to the derby the weekend prior. I've never gone to England for more than 2 days at a time and never for any reason other than an Everton game. With that in mind, it seems my advice on what to do around the country is rather limited.

I can advise you to get ready for the experience of a lifetime at Goodison, though. American sports don't come close to the atmosphere on a good day at the old lady, as evidenced by the aforementioned fact that I've flown to England for the weekend on several occasions.

Jim Hardin
2 Posted 23/01/2017 at 02:49:28
Mike,

Great news. May I assume that you are in remission, I hope? I hope the trip is an awesome experience for you. If you do meet up with any of the TW regulars, please take a picture and post it somehow so I can see if they match what I think they look like in my head!

If you are flying out of Portland and are getting there a day or two early, hit The Toffee Club, a true Evertonian bar in Portland with genuine English food (why?) and beer as well as some fine local brews. My sister-in-law and her husband go there and neither is a "soccer" fan although they support the Timbers and Thorns.

Mike Gaynes
3 Posted 23/01/2017 at 04:02:03
Pat, thanks for the "hajj" line, it still cracks me up.

Jim, thanks for the tip... happens I'm flying to Portland tomorrow for treatment and I found the Toffee Club online... only a couple miles from where I'll be. I'll check it out!

Jim Lloyd
4 Posted 23/01/2017 at 07:48:35
Mike, you'll have a brilliant time and you'll be welcomed as a brother. It's probably best if you stay in a hotel in the town centre, as there's lots to see down near the waterfront.

I was thinking about your wish to travel on some train journeys. Well' you'll be able to get a train along the North Wales Coast from Liverpool and via Chester, which is a brilliant Town, complete with Roman Walls, Medieval rows of shops and a good place for a day out, if the weather's okay (Big if that one!)

Once along the Coast, you can visit Conway (great big Castle and fabulous views of Snowdonia!)

Then there's the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales as well.

As you fancy train journeys, then you might be interested in the Steam Train trips, including a beaut down the Vale of Llangollen, that enthusiasts, have got the iconic steam engines back out of retirement.

I don't know if you can get the information off the internet (probably) but if you can't, I'll get some leaflets, when they come out, of the programme of trips, just let me know.

As for meeting some of the Blues, I think you'd better make your stay a fortnight!! Have a great time, mate.

Just leave yourself time to enjoy the matches as well though!

Tony Abrahams
5 Posted 23/01/2017 at 07:55:22
I'm glad you're on the mend Mike, and hope you come and have a great time. I'd love to see a picture of big Jim, learning the keepers, how to scrape! and would suggest a train journey to the Lake District might be what you are looking for?

Mike I'm pretty sure that the Grand National, is on that weekend, so bring a suit mate, for Liverpool's finest weekend in its Callander!

Tony Hill
6 Posted 23/01/2017 at 08:58:39
Hope you have a wonderful time, Mike, and very pleased to hear you're doing well. The recommendations above are spot on - York is a fine city to visit and relatively easy by train, lots to do and see.

If it is Grand National weekend as Tony says then you need to get your accommodation sorted asap because all city hotels get booked out.

Peter Mills
7 Posted 23/01/2017 at 09:37:02
Mike, feel free to email me at peter@acsurveyors.co.uk and I'll try and give you some pointers about where to stay/go.
Dave Abrahams
8 Posted 23/01/2017 at 09:37:22
Hope you have a great time in Liverpool when you come Mike, you are getting plenty of good advice on here Mike.

Best of luck in the future Mike.

Laurie Hartley
9 Posted 23/01/2017 at 09:43:15
Mike - I hope you have a great trip and we win both games. You might be interested in this:

Link

I made the trip across the river every day when I was A lad - the thought of it still stirs me up.

Ray Roche
10 Posted 23/01/2017 at 10:05:58
Mike, good to hear you're still on the mend, further to Jim Lloyd's recommendations, you can also try http://www.festrail.co.uk/ which are the small railways in North Wales where you can appreciate the wonderful scenery of Snowdonia as well as the experience of travelling on the old, restored trains. Good way to see the country.

As Jim says, Conwy is worth a visit and the trip down the Conwy Valley to Betws Y Coed is lovely. Plenty of places to stay and good walking/hiking country. Chester, and of course, Liverpool have loads to offer.

I'm sure you'll have a great time. Maybe Lyndon could organise a meeting/interview so we can get to know what you look like and your Stateside Blue story?

Martin Nicholls
11 Posted 23/01/2017 at 10:10:59
Grand National is indeed on 8th April (so Leicester game will be rearranged, probably to the next day) so get that accommodation booked Mike and try to get to the race meeting.

Mike mentions meeting a few ToffeeWebbers when he is over which is a bit of a coincidence for me as only last week I was thinking it would be good to have an annual get together (complete with name tags!) a bit like a school reunion so that we could put faces to the names we debate with throughout the year.

If such an event were a success it could be moved to bigger venues for the future but I thought Philharmonic pub might be a good place for starters. I wonder what Lyndon/Michael think? Or has this been tried before and I've missed it?

David Ellis
12 Posted 23/01/2017 at 11:07:16
You can get a nice apartment on Air BnB if you are staying for a few days. Defintely go the Grand National as well - go to the Beachers Brook corner - its the highest fence
Paul Kelly
13 Posted 23/01/2017 at 12:49:08
Made up for yer Mike, you deserve mate, you'll have a great time I'm sure.
Eugene Ruane
14 Posted 23/01/2017 at 13:26:05
Hopefully your story finishes like one of those shite made for telly sports films where it all works out in the end.

Synopsis - Basically loads of worrying hozzy shots, head-shaking doctors, then the good news, then a final shot of you at Goodison, jumping out of your seat as Tom Davies scores a last minute winner to secure us 4th spot.

We then freeze frame on you dancing about with fellow blues while a graphic appears..

"Mike Gaynes is now fully recovered and living happily in Cacksville Oregon"

(sorry not sure exactly where you live)

Added to this graphic comes another..

"Liverpool FC were relegated to the 2nd division after an investigation showing 50 years of bribes" (well..y'know, nothing subtle about Hollywood)

Seriously, congratulations on your good news, enjoy your trip.

Ron Sear
15 Posted 23/01/2017 at 17:49:51
Welcome and hope you have a great time One thing though please don't ask for an announcement to made on the public address system at Goodison that this is your first vist to the Old Lady - every time I hear a 'first time' message some kind of disaster on the pitch happens.
Brian Williams
16 Posted 23/01/2017 at 17:59:41
Welcome, Mike, fellow Evertonian and fellow Big C survivor.

I actually mentioned to Lyndon, I think it was, about having a ToffeeWeb meet up somewhere, sometime. Be interesting to put names to faces!

Hope your trip is a huge success Mike!

Kristian Boyce
17 Posted 23/01/2017 at 18:40:46
Mike, I always thought you lived in Florida, I must have you confused with another US TW'er.

I'm very envious of your trip. I haven't been back home for about 6 years. I'm glad you're getting to see the real England, not the tourist trappings of London. I get so many people tell me they are going to the UK for a vacation, and London is the only place they go to.

Mike Gaynes
18 Posted 23/01/2017 at 18:51:33
Thanks everybody for the responses and good wishes. Reading them while having treatment today... huge lift. Love it.

Appreciate all the guidance. The York and Wales train adventures sound great, and I will be checking them out for sure. Jim and Ray, details and recommendations much appreciated. Other folks have told me that the London-Edinburgh overnight and the Glasgow-Mallaig train are trips not to be missed. Any TW Scots who can comment?

Thanks Tony/Tony/Martin for the head's up on the Grand National... couldn't figure out why so many of the hotels were already booked up. Not much of a horse guy myself but just my luck to cross up with a major four-legged event. I will book a room right away if I can just figure out where the train station is.

Eugene, great scenario, only mine would have ManU busted instead of Liverpool. Not having grown up on Merseyside, my hatred goes toward different Reds.

Ron #15, don't worry, no jinx announcements here. I'm keeping my head down.

Brian #16, I'm not in the Big C survivor club yet, but hope to join you. Congratulations on your winning fight.

Mike Gaynes
19 Posted 23/01/2017 at 18:53:24
And Peter #7, thank you for your email, will definitely take you up on that. Mine is mikegaynes@aol.com.
Andy Crooks
20 Posted 23/01/2017 at 18:55:06
Mike, we have had numerous disagreements all in good spirit I am happy beyond words for you. A proper Evertonian is what you are.
Brent Stephens
21 Posted 23/01/2017 at 19:11:11
Mike, you might want to visit the following post / zip code:
L3 0AP, and imagine.

And make sure you avoid L4 0TH!

Has anybody mentioned Prince Rupert's Tower?

Best wishes

Brian Williams
22 Posted 23/01/2017 at 19:20:24
Mike, you WILL join me and I look forward to welcoming you to the "club."
Tony Abrahams
23 Posted 23/01/2017 at 19:20:25
Use your head though Mike, and just book your first hotel, for a couple of nights, and then you might get somewhere better, and cheaper when the races have finished.

Also don't worry about how far the train station is because you will be pleasantly surprised at how compact Liverpool actually is, (it's made for the visitor?) as long as you can book somewhere, with-in the city centre.

Post the hotels you are looking at, and I'm sure we will be able to tell you which is the best location. Maybe try a night in THE TITANIC, it might be a bit expensive, but it's right by where we are all hoping to go!

Brian Williams
24 Posted 23/01/2017 at 19:23:09
Yeh, just don't book into The Shankly Hotel ;-)
Kev Johnson
25 Posted 23/01/2017 at 20:37:45
Mike, great to hear you’re good. I’ll give you my email, I’ll then forward you my phone number and arrange to meet you before the game.

I’ll sort some unforgettable photo opportunities for you . My email is kevinjohnson127@talktalk.net. Be safe, Mike, and we will see you soon.

Thomas Lennon
26 Posted 23/01/2017 at 21:56:29
Colleague in work is with us for a few month from South Africa. She is a blue from way back - just because her brothers were reds I think she said. She finally managed to organise tickets for the Man C game. I suggested we hadn't had a great season so far but we often did well against City. Just hoped a young lad in midfield did ok in the absence of Gana!

Not a bad first match to remember us by!

John Daley
27 Posted 24/01/2017 at 00:19:55
"The Everton Hajj" eh, Mike? 

Quite an undertaking.

I presume that means you'll have to enter a permanent state of Ihram during your trip, resulting in jewellery, haircuts, shagging and arguing being well and truly off the menu. Alas, as such, you'll definitely want to be steering clear of a certain type of Scouse bird. Mainly, those who look like they've slapped a big stick of licorice above their eye lids as some sort of bizarre brow substitute and furthermore seem to have forgotten Bert was actually the yellow one; Ernie was the bright orange bastard (and, whatever you do Mr Gaynes, do not jokingly ask one of those girls if they want any 'sherbert').

You will of course have to don simple white garments for the duration. That terrible 1995 'tractor tracks' away top, teamed with white trackie bottoms tucked into white socks, topped off with your biggest, brightest, American trainees (or should that be 'sneakies'?) should ensure you don't stand out too much amongst any scalls. 

Seen as though you'll probably circle Goodison seven times looking for the correct turnstile to enter through, then Tawaf should take care of itself. As long as you remember to go counter clockwise and keep horse shit avoidance at the forefront of your mind.

Sa'y, or the whole 'running seven times between hills and supping from the Zamzam spring' (to reenact Hagar running for water) might seem a trickier obligation to fit in, but luckily there's a 'William Hill's' right by the ground and a couple of 'watering holes' we can substitute for the real thing. Legging it between the bookies and the boozer to fulfil this requirement might be considered morally dubious I suppose, but we can only work with what we've got and besides: 'when in Walton' (as...err..absolutely nobody would say). 

Also, during the Hajj, it is imperative to throw 49 rocks at stone 'Satan's' (as a way of recalling the resistance to Satan's attempts to prevent Abraham from sacrificing Ishmael). Satan's? Hmm, if only we had some handy close by

Sooo, that's 48 hefty fuckers flung forcibly at all 4 sides of Anfield and a spare for you to keep hold of in case you happen to make it to Mathew St and get within 'CHUCK'ing distance of that new Cilla statue. 

Then, apparently, on the eighth day of Hajj, you have to move to a barren desert and doss down in a flimsy tent. Kind of the 'Destination Kirkby' part of the whole pilgrimage deal I guess?

Anyway, I wish you all the best for your own particular 'Hajj' and sincerely hope you have an absolutely fantastic time, Mike. 

Here's to 'actually being there' living up to the build up, the boys showing the same fight and determination on the pitch that you have in your own personal battle, six points, and a whole host of enduring Evertonian memories for you to take home and look back on for a long time to come. 

Mike Gaynes
28 Posted 24/01/2017 at 02:23:57
Andy #20, our debates were cuddles compared to the way Paul Ferry and I went at it, and now he's talking to me too. Thanks for the kind words.

Brent #21, nice mystery post, I shall investigate.

Brian #22, I hear and I obey. First round on me.

Tony #23, great advice, will do.

Kev #25, much appreciated, will contact you soon.

John Daley, I'll need a day, a Koran and a dictionary to sort through your treatise, but I shall grasp the deepest meanings, I swear it.

And now an announcement. I didn't answer Jim's #2 question because I couldn't. But as of two hours ago, I can. Officially.

YES. I am in remission. Greatest fucking word in the English language.

Very special day.

And now I get to go to Goodison clean.

whew.

Mick Davies
29 Posted 24/01/2017 at 02:40:24
Mike @ 28, that's great news. Having recently lost a true blue friend to the Cruel C (his pic was in the Man City programme as a tribute) I can imagine what all your family and friends have been through,

If you take Laurie @ 9's advice, and take a trip over the Mersey, try and visit the church in the North End of Birkenhead (St James I think. on the main Rd) where the great 'Dixie' was both christened and buried - now that IS a pilgrimage. Best of luck for the games, and hope the blues do the business for you.

Paul Columb
30 Posted 24/01/2017 at 03:55:37
Great news Mike. Wish I could have met you for an ale at the Toffeeclub to celebrate. Even more, I wish I could be sitting on the #9 heading to Goodison from town with you in April. Now that you're in remission, get them to make sure your next follow up is on a Thursday so we we can meet up. Next season we'll head over together. Then the docks in 2020.
Laurie Hartley
31 Posted 24/01/2017 at 04:30:19
Mike - that is great news. Life will be different for you now. I have to say Brian Williams # 22 did tell you so.

Now Mike - if you do decide to make the trip to the North End of Birkenhead as Mick # 29 has suggested let me know and I will get my sister Sheila and brother in law Martin (both Evertonians) to pick you up and take you there. They live not far from their. The North End is Birkenheads equivalent of the Bronx😉

Mick # 29 - do you know what 2 things I have in common with Dixie? I went to Laird St school and I was christened in St James church. Honest.

Mike Gaynes
32 Posted 24/01/2017 at 05:49:13
Paul my good friend, thank you. Wanted you to know most of all. We'll have plenty more chances in Portland, because I still have another year of treatments ahead of me. Unfortunately I'm stuck with Mondays because that's when my docs are there, so you just gotta get a Monday off sometime, right?

Mick and Laurie, many thanks for the guidance. I think, this being my first time to the UK, I'll want to get out and see the country by train as much as possible, so I doubt I'll be spending much time in town except for the games. But if I do have a day for the Liverpool experience, I will definitely let you know!

Dave Lynch
33 Posted 24/01/2017 at 06:08:09
Great news Mike.

In a world full of pessimism and bad news it's always good to hear some good news.

If a few TW'ers wanna meet up in the Philharmonic whilst your over, i'll have a sherbert or two with the crew.

Brent Stephens
34 Posted 24/01/2017 at 06:49:35
John Daley, I'm not sure there's been a better, funnier post from you (ok, we keep saying that but...).

"Legging it between the bookies and the boozer"... cracker.

Tony Abrahams
35 Posted 24/01/2017 at 07:34:59
Brilliant news Mike, time to start clearing your lines again mate!

John Daley, no wonder we never get any luck us blues. I saw this arl one, with a Liverpool scarf on, putting flowers on Cilla's statue, and you are advising bricks I can't wait to hear Pete Price, when he finds out about this!

John G Davies
36 Posted 24/01/2017 at 07:49:37
Out of order, John.


As the media will tell you Our Cilla is much loved by scousers. The proof is in the whip round they asked the people of Liverpool to fund the statue. £380 it raised.

All the best Mike. Have a great trip.

Jim Hardin
37 Posted 24/01/2017 at 14:37:42
Mike,

Great news! I apologize for putting you on the spot earlier with my hopeful assumption. Liverpool losing, Everton winning, and now good news for a fellow TWer, within days of each other. Excellent. Have a great trip and remember to take that picture!

Brian Williams
38 Posted 24/01/2017 at 14:52:02
Told you Mike ..never in doubt mate!
Martin Nicholls
39 Posted 24/01/2017 at 15:23:30
Great news, Mike – made up for you.
Martin Nicholls
40 Posted 24/01/2017 at 15:26:28
Brian (#16) – see mine (#11). Great minds, eh? Would be great if Lyndon/Michael could canvass interest on this site to see if such a gathering is feasible
Mike Gaynes
41 Posted 24/01/2017 at 15:58:10
Jim #37, no apology necessary. Given how unexpected the news was, who knows but maybe you helped it happen. As they used to say in the '70s... cosmic, dude.
Andrew Presly
42 Posted 24/01/2017 at 16:15:56
Great news, Mike. Did something similar up the road from you a few months back by finally seeing the Seahawks at the C-Link, very special. Seize the day and all that.

Leicester and Burnley at home you say? We should win both of those games and win them well, shouldn't we?! Have a good one.

Mick Davies
43 Posted 24/01/2017 at 19:33:43
Laurie @ 31, How was your heading ability? lol...
Mike Gaynes
44 Posted 24/01/2017 at 19:44:14
Andrew #42, I do the same... saw the Bulls in the playoffs back in the '90s and was there in person when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup 2015.

Caught a Cubs playoff game last fall, although not in Wrigley. When these moments happen, you gotta grab 'em, right?

Darren Hind
45 Posted 24/01/2017 at 19:57:47
Cant recall ever agreeing with you, Mike (although it musta happened).

But what a fantastic post. Enjoy our City. You are very very welcome.

If you want culture, we have it in abundance If you want to take in another world class sporting event. go to the Grand nNational.

But for a never to be repeated experience. Get to Aintree on Ladies Day.

Mike Gaynes
46 Posted 24/01/2017 at 20:06:04
Thanks, Darren. I think we once agreed that it was Tuesday. But we got over it.

I wonder if Aintree is similar to the Kentucky Derby with the outfits and the hats. Was there once.

Mike Gaynes
47 Posted 24/01/2017 at 20:21:46
Tony #23, here are the hotels I've found with rooms available and somewhat rational prices:

Z Hotel
Premier Inn Liverpool City Centre
Beech Mount Hotel
Podworks Hotel
Holiday Inn
ibis Liverpool Centre Albert Dock
Travelodge at The Strand and also Exchange Street

Any reviews or suggestions on these?

Alan McGuffog
48 Posted 24/01/2017 at 22:26:46
Great news about your health Mike, pleased for you and your family. Congrats !
Brian (24) advised avoiding the Shankly Hotel. Hmmm maybe. BUT should you find yourself there and anyone comes the old acid about Bill Shankly put Liverpool on the map man of the people...Shanks red army etc etc then throw back at them his comment in his autobiography ." Since his retirement he has been made far more welcome at Goodison than at Anfield". And that he spent his latter days at Bellefield training with Everton youth players.
The RS love this !
Dave Long
49 Posted 24/01/2017 at 23:11:21
Mike, my folks stayed in the premier inn. Brilliant location, nice and clean.
Ray Roche
50 Posted 24/01/2017 at 23:15:14
Welcome news Mike, I'm sure there's a huge weight off your shoulders.

John Daley (#27) – "as a way of recalling the resistance to Satan's attempts to prevent Abrahams from sacrificing Ishmael"

Would that be Dave or Tony?

Jim Hardin
51 Posted 25/01/2017 at 00:13:47
Eugene, John, and Ray,

Brilliant! What a sense of humor you gents have. Maybe one or two of you could get close to Koeman at the games and keep peppering him with comments until he is reduced to rolling around in the technical area, holding his sides, forgetting that he is Dutch and not supposed to laugh.

Mike Gaynes
52 Posted 24/01/2017 at 00:19:23
Dave (#49), thanks very much for the recommendation. I checked it out and it looks great, terrific reviews, and it's £100 cheaper than the Holiday Inn Albert Dock for a three-day stay. So I booked it! Thanks again.
Mike Hughes
53 Posted 25/01/2017 at 00:44:39
Good luck Mike.

I hope your trip coincides with a couple of 7-0 wins (let's not be greedy), nice weather and more positive news on the Royal Blue Mersey Mecca Mega Stadium - (the one that will forever be part of the city skyline and have us all singing 'Eff Off to Anfield, the city's all ours')

I can't wait to sing that - full throttle at dockside, middle finger raised in a north easterly direction in satisfied contempt.

CL qualification at the expense of a faltering, stuttering rs would also be nice.

I'm a Blue - aged 50 - and the emotional links with The Mighty Blues through good times and bad are what make this club so special.

Have a great time - and good luck.

Mike Gaynes
54 Posted 25/01/2017 at 04:15:37
Alan, Ray and Mike... thanks.
Paul Ferry
55 Posted 25/01/2017 at 06:30:11
Mike Gaynes, a fantastic ToffeeWebber Those lovely pics of Mike, Lyndon, Dr Everton, Sturmo. and Gerry Quinn and others at the SF game still tickle me.

Gerry, George and Angela's!

Darren (#45) – top post.

Tickets for the games sorted for you Mike.

Have a wonderful time mate.

I hadn't realized how dicey your Big C was – call it 'Trump' as Dennis Potter called his 'Thatcher'.

You'll be at the first game at the dock.

Keep in touch about trains, and, boats, and planes.

Mike Gaynes
56 Posted 25/01/2017 at 21:32:11
PF, unfortunately we won't have a national remission for another four years.
Alan McGuffog
57 Posted 25/01/2017 at 21:52:36
Mike are you adept at the mambo, or salsa, or, perchance, the merengue?
Eugene Ruane
58 Posted 25/01/2017 at 21:59:47
See choker Klopp has done the biz again.

Rearrange the following words to make a well known phrase.

In. Get.

Tony Abrahams
59 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:01:39
Sorry Mike, I hadn't checked this page for a couple of days, but you have done okay I think mate.

Don't know about sacrificing Ishmael, but I bet you those Southampton fans, don't feel to bad about sacrificing Koeman, after just what's happened to our neighbours! Hahaha

Colin Hughes
60 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:03:10
Haha, Klopp the serial big match failure strikes again.
Mike Hughes
61 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:10:10
I'm not one to gloat but picture the scene:

Freezing cold night.
Out-fought and out-thought by a side recently stuffed 3-0 by The Mighty Blues.
Faces like slapped arses.
Knowing you truly are a gobshite among gobshites.
Walking home thinking about EFC's magical dockside state-of-the-art, dog-shite free mega stadium.

(Snigger)

Priceless.

I'm starting to like Klopp.

Hope the Saints win the cup now.

Brent Stephens
62 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:11:22
Oh dear, how sad!
Dave Abrahams
63 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:14:10
John (27), I went to see the Cilla statue, I was very disappointed, the legs were great but I thought they would have put a veil over her face.
Brian Williams
64 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:18:56
Come on, lads, you shouldn't be celebrating a loss for our neighbours, it smacks of bitterness...

I gotta go – the Conga lines coming round again!!!!!

Mike Hughes
65 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:21:35
It's started already: Klopp Out! (R5L - not a Scouse accent to be heard)

YNWA - don't you just love the irony?

Brent Stephens
66 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:23:24
Listening to R5L now. Delicious.
Paul Tran
67 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:24:14
Mike, if you're into train journeys, I'd recommend coming up to Scotland and enjoying the train up the west coast to Mallaig and the line from Perth to Inverness. If you come up this far (I'm 15 miles east of Inverness) get in touch and we'll have a beer or two!

You must go to Ladies Day at Aintree. And then go into town straight afterwards. You will see some sights, my friend!

David Barks
68 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:25:11
We really need to keep building up the points and try to catch them. They're going through a big stumble, we need to capitalize.
Tony Abrahams
69 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:27:18
No fucking irony at all Mike, they kid me not!
Brent Stephens
70 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:29:18
Mike, if you take that train trip to Scotland, as Paul suggests, you should stop at various points on the way for a beer with fellow blues. First stop could be Southport (the home of several ex-Liverpool players – saw Dalglish out yesterday pushing a pram –part of the rs academy no doubt). Beer on me.
Tony Abrahams
71 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:33:33
Make Brent meet you in town or "country in western" Mike, because he's just taking you right out the way with that suggestion!
Paul Tran
72 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:34:08
Mike, the Premier Inns at Albert Dock and Liverpool One are both good and good value.
Brent Stephens
73 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:38:51
Tony...

Liverpool to Southport - beer with your truly.
Southport to Wigan - pie and pie and pie and beer with Phil Walling.
Wigan to Scotland via...?

Actually those buying at each stop could join the trip. One hell of a gang and a trip by the end.

Tony Abrahams
74 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:41:56
I can see you've thought it through Brent, but I'm sure Phil's gone back to picking spuds in Cyprus, because he can't pick his nose with Everton!
Brent Stephens
75 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:43:45
That's so negative, Tony. You'd never get negativity from Phil.
Tony Abrahams
76 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:50:50
Back to the positives Brent, and haven't Southampton put a spring in your step!
Brent Stephens
77 Posted 25/01/2017 at 22:52:14
Tony, there's always a spring in my step. I'm very much a glass(ar) half full guy.
Colin Glassar
78 Posted 25/01/2017 at 00:07:17
Fantastic post Mike. I'm sure you'll love the old lady whatever the result.
Mike Gaynes
79 Posted 26/01/2017 at 00:47:15
Paul Tran, thanks so much for those recommendations. I was already trying to book the Mallaig train (can't figure out the website) but Perth to Inverness sounds great and I will definitely add that to the itinerary. As for the Premier Inns, Dave Long (#49) already tipped me off and I booked a room at Liverpool One. Looks like I'm in the right spot!

Brent and Tony, you guys crack me up. Deffo like the idea of Northern and Scottish Blues taking over the train. Could be a great script for a movie. We could even turn Phil into an optimist. Well, okay, that's a bridge too far.

Keith Edmunds
80 Posted 26/01/2017 at 03:41:40
Sorry I'm a bit late with this, but I've just got back from holiday.

On our recent visit we stayed at the Orrell Park Hotel. Reasonable price and walking distance to the ground. Small family run hotel, made very welcome, and good banter with red owner. Also stayed at the more central Albert Dock Holiday Inn which was good but a lot more expensive.

Tony Abrahams
81 Posted 26/01/2017 at 07:25:08
I was thinking more like a bridge over troubled waters Mike! Liverpool one, is perfect mate, and make sure you take Darren's advice and your first train journey is from Moorfields to Aintree, on the Friday.
Mike Gaynes
82 Posted 26/01/2017 at 19:38:35
Tony, have to miss that... won't be arriving until late Friday.
Paul Tran
83 Posted 26/01/2017 at 20:26:18
Mike, for trains in Scotland, try www.scotrail.co.uk, which will give you all the info you need.

If you end up this side of the border, give me a shout. I spend a lot of time working in Glasgow and could take you on the sights (pubs) there if we're there at the same time. Please get in touch if you're taking the train to Inverness.

Whatever you do, you must do Ladies Day on the Friday at Aintree. You won't regret it!

Tony Abrahams
84 Posted 26/01/2017 at 20:53:57
You will be coming into a city which will be very much alive, Mike, so after the great news you have just received this week, I'm sure it will reflect your mood!

Jamie Crowley
85 Posted 26/01/2017 at 21:21:40
Mike -

I just saw this. My TW alloted time has decreased significantly since the Fall...

Very happy for you my fellow 'Merican and I hope your trip is simply blissful.

Wear a TRUMP 17 jersey over there just to stir things up a bit. I'm sure that'd go down great...

Have fun Mike - you've earned it.

Peter Mills
86 Posted 26/01/2017 at 21:49:24
Mike, when you arrive in the city on the Friday evening when everyone is coming into town after Ladies Day at Aintree – just embrace the moment!
Joe Bibb
87 Posted 26/01/2017 at 22:08:06
Try The Liner Hotel right by Lime Street Station good hotel and reasonable price.

Before home games, go to the Church by Gwladys Street, St Luke's where there is a free Everton display with many EFC items on sale upstairs.

Eric Holland
88 Posted 26/01/2017 at 22:14:11
Mike,

I will set you and your family up with some tickets for the Beatles tour If you can fit it in that is.

Liner is a great Hotel and my Brother in law is duty manager there as well so I might be able to help there.

Mike Gaynes
89 Posted 26/01/2017 at 22:23:30
Paul, thanks, hope our schedules match and we can meet up.

Jamie old Yank, great to hear from you... thanks for the good wishes. But no, I will not be wearing a porno shirt. I have a #17 but it's for Terrible Timmy.

Joe Bibb, thanks, I did try The Liner but couldn't get the booking I wanted, so I went for the Premier Liverpool One instead. Good reviews here.

Peter, I will for sure. Maybe you and I can have a Guinness to get me into the spirit of the thing.

Peter Mills
90 Posted 26/01/2017 at 22:27:45
Sounds good to me, Mike.
Michael Dersch
91 Posted 26/01/2017 at 22:42:51
Mike Gaynes, I am a fellow yank Evertonian so I have no useful advice for your trip. I am glad to hear you are well enough to travel and are still able to school those young ones on the pitch. Long may it continue.

I just found this article and I will follow it with great interest. As you, I am almost 60 years old and want to make my own Hajj before it is too late for me. I hope to make my trip in the spring of 2018. Certainly before the Old Lady is replaced with a new home on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey (he types hopefully!).

Good luck on your travels. It seems you will be in good hands with all the advice you are getting from our fellow TW-ers. Please let us all know how your trip goes. I'm counting on a full trip report from you to help with my own planning.

Ray Roche
92 Posted 26/01/2017 at 23:26:46
For all those imploring Mike to visit the (inappropriately named) "Ladies Day", shame on you! For all you know, Mike might well be a shy and retiring sort of chap who could be emotionally scarred by his experiences at Aintree for the rest of his life.

I'm sure if he wants to see acres of badly sprayed false tans, painted eyebrows* and misspelled tattoos, then there are no doubt websites that will cater for that sort of thing. Why not go the whole hog? Is the Grafton still open? Can anywhere else offer a "Grab a Granny" experience? Will Wayne Rooney be able to help?

*The eyebrows. Who was the genius who managed to persuade the "Ladies" that it's a good idea to shave off your eyebrows and then invite a chimpanzee, with seemingly little experience, loose with a tattoo needle to replace natures attempt with some permanent ink? They all have the surprised expression of someone who's sat on a mountain bike without a saddle...

Mike Gaynes
93 Posted 27/01/2017 at 02:34:42
Ray, you should be declared a national resource. Like Pele.

I'll pick myself up off the floor in a little while...

Mike Gaynes
94 Posted 27/01/2017 at 02:39:31
Thank you, Michael... I will definitely be keeping a diary of this trip and posting it on my return. Compulsion for an old reporter.
John Pierce
95 Posted 27/01/2017 at 04:01:44
ToffeeWeb meet up, convention in the states surely?!
Ray Roche
96 Posted 27/01/2017 at 09:24:59
Mike, someone once said to my missus I should be a National Treasure. I think that's what they meant when they said "Where'd you dig 'im up"?
Paul Thompson
97 Posted 27/01/2017 at 18:57:59
Mike, your posts are always sane and insighftul. It's great that you are making the journey. If you do make the Scotland trip, drop in at Edinburgh (the most beautiful city in the UK) and I'll be happy to treat you to to a tour and grub.
Colin Glassar
98 Posted 27/01/2017 at 19:07:13
Mike, you have to try the deep fried doughnuts in town. They are the best in the world. You'll love Liverpool mate.
Peter McHugh
99 Posted 27/01/2017 at 19:28:38
Mike, great post and fantastic to hear you're on the mend. Hope you have a great time.

Liverpool is an ace city, mate. I would suggest fitting in Ladies Day at Aintree races on the Friday, train ride and stop in Chester, North Wales train and any castle there, ie, Conwy, then if you want to go further afield, go to Scotland, I suggest Edinburgh.

More than happy to have a pint in the week if you're at a loose end in Liverpool, I can show you some good ale houses and chat all things Blue. You should post on here nearer the time.

Dermot Byrne
100 Posted 27/01/2017 at 19:31:42
Mike... Sometimes we think football is more important than it actually is. You show that in the end it is about a community of like-minded people and a knowledge that a load of strangers are on your side and wish you the very best.

Great you are better than you were and that you are looking forward to what I hope is a great trip. I bet the club would love to welcome you, mate.

Colin Glassar
101 Posted 27/01/2017 at 20:59:32
Well Mike, you're just getting a taste of Scouse hospitality. I hope you can understand us when you get over here. Youknowworraimean lar?
Jamie Crowley
102 Posted 27/01/2017 at 22:01:27
Have to say, the hospitality, warmth, and well-wishes on this thread to Mike are fantastic.

Have fun Mike! I'll be tuning in to see how the trip pans out for you. You should do a recap thread – would love to read about your experience.

Mike Gaynes
103 Posted 28/01/2017 at 05:30:30
Paul #97, Edinburgh is my chosen destination between games, during the week of April 10. I'm going to take the overnight train from London and then go out through Glasgow to Fort William and Mallaig. I would be ecstatic to have you show me around Edinburgh. Another TW member Paul Tran is there too. Thanks very much for the invite, and I accept! Contact me at mikegaynes@aol.com.

Peter #99, thanks for the recommendations on the trains. I'm going to do both. Will miss the Aintree ladies day but hope to meet you in town.

Dermot, Colin and Jamie... you are absolutely spot on. The warmth and support from the TW community has been amazing since I first mentioned my little problem some months back. (It was in a thread about Bradley Lowery, the little Sunderland fan that Everton has so brilliantly supported. Someone asked a question about the costs of his cancer treatment in America, and I answered, and the word was out.)

Knowing I have so many soon-to-be-friends to meet when I get there is a huge thrill. And the fact that I got my unexpected good news the very day after posting this article means the universe is just lining me up with my fellow Blues, as well as my beloved Toffees.

Many, many thanks to all of you. I can't wait.

Mike Gaynes
104 Posted 28/01/2017 at 05:31:41
Colin (#101), I'm studying the language as hard as I can, but I may need to hire a translator.
Lee Courtliff
105 Posted 29/01/2017 at 23:51:22
Congratulations, Mike. I hope your trip is as enjoyable as you've always imagined. You deserve it.
Mick Davies
106 Posted 30/01/2017 at 00:30:32
Mike, it looks like you're travelling hundreds of miles, drinking and eating all day without spending a penny (dime?). You are part of the worldwide Everton family, and will be looked after accordingly (though not to the extent of Darron Gibson). Good luck with the journey the games and your future health
Mike Gaynes
107 Posted 30/01/2017 at 05:43:08
Mick and Lee, thank you.

This is special.

Peter Lee
108 Posted 02/02/2017 at 19:10:14
Don't tell them your going on a Haj of any description, they won't let you back in by the looks of it.

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